Department of Florida

Category Archives: News

Commander Sets New Goal

WE DID IT! – We helped the Commander reach his initial fundraising goal of $50,000 for PROJECT: VetRelief.

Additional monies collected for his project will now go towards ALL Florida Legion programs. Donations can still be made to PROJECT: VetRelief, just be sure to indicate where you’d like the funds to be applied in the memo of the check, or by making your check directly to PROJECT: VetRelief.

At the beginning of the year, the Commander set a goal to collect $50,000 during his one-year term as Department Commander for PROJECT: VetRelief. Once the goal of $50,000 has been met, he decided that any additional donations submitted and made payable to “The American Legion, Department of Florida” and indicating “Commander’s Project” in the memo line will go towards other Florida Legion Programs. However, the Legion Family can still contribute to PVR by making donations directly payable to PROEJCT: VetRelief, but be sure to include “Commander’s Project” in the memo.

Commander Shuga has decided to raise his fundraising goal to $75,000 to continue his efforts in providing funds for our Legion programs. He knows that with the generosity of the Legion Family and the passion they have for the Florida Legion programs, this goal is very attainable! Let’s help him reach his secondary goal, and ultimately help veterans and their families through our various programs!


Voting Clarification

The question has come up pertaining to a “number or percentage of votes required to win a contest during our Department elections”. According to Department ByLaws, Article I, Section 14, “The candidate for each office that receives the most votes shall be declared the winner.” And the Rules of Procedure #22 “…The Candidate for each office that receives the most votes shall be declared the winner…”

Here are pages from the Constitution & ByLaws and Rules of Procedure, from 2016 and 2017, which clarify this question:

We hope this clears up any confusion. If you still have questions about this or any of the voting process, please email our Department Assistant Adjutant, Bruce Comer at


2018 State Oratorical Winners

The American Legion, Department of Florida is proud to announce the winners from the State Oratorical Contest held, March 10, 2018:

1st Place – $2,500 and representing Florida at National Oratorical Contest
Caleb Wilson, Western Area, Post 84

2nd Place – $1,500
Greta Dieck, Central Area, Post 8

3rd Place – $1,000
Holly Stidham, Northern Area, Post 27

$500 Winners

  • Ricardo Barrios, Eastern Area, Post 63
  • Chika Ojukwu, Southern Area, Post 385
  • Sheyla Ravelo Perez, Southwestern Area, Post 323

We’d like to extend a special thank you to All the Posts, Districts, and Area Chairmen that helped support these students with their journey to the State Contest; Department Oratorical Chairman, Meri West, for her dedication and support for the Oratorical Program; The Judges, Tabulators, and Time Keepers for your help and support at the State Contest; and to our contestants and all attendees for your support and participation.


Boat Replica Donated to Post Officer

A replica of PT Boat 562 recently was dedicated and presented to American Legion Post 273. Pictured, from left, are first vice commander Mike Haygood; post member Harry Mulder, who donated the boat to the post; Monte Palmer; Commander Jim White and Adjutant Dan Koker. [Photo courtesy of Anthony Torregrossa]

A replica of PT Boat 562 was dedicated and presented to American Legion Post 273 Madeira Beach executive officer Monte Palmer, 94, who served on the boat during World War II.

Source:Tampa Bay Times


Groundbreaking Set for New State Veterans’ Nursing Home

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs is hosting a Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Ardie R. Copas State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Port St. Lucie on March 20, 2018 at 2 p.m. 

The new 120-bed state veterans’ home will be located near 10700 SW Tradition Parkway in the Port St. Lucie community of Tradition. Parking will be adjacent to the ceremony site. 

A reception will immediately follow the ceremony at Tradition Town Hall, 10799 SW Civic Lane. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony and reception will take place at Tradition Town Hall.


Legion Family Cruise

Rick Johnson – All Aboard!!! It’s official, the Legion Family cruise is a go! It’s been about eight years since the Legion Family cruised together, and it’s high-tide we do it again.

There are limited spaces, based on a first-come-first-serve basis. You’ll need $100 per person to book now, and during the next couple of months various promotions will be offered.   Don’t delay and miss out on this opportunity.

We will be boarding the Carnival Liberty from Port Canaveral on September 13, 2018, journeying to Nassau, and returning to Port Canaveral on September 16, 2018. Please see the attached flyer for complete details and full pricing information.

To make your reservations, please contact Maureen Williams PVP, at 800-819-3902 ext 85931, be sure to mention the American Legion Group Code 1KNQ25 to take advantage of our special rates.

Please note, this is not an official “Department of Florida” organized event. For all questions and requests for additional information, contact Rick Johnson, 2nd Vice Commander at 954-242-4496 or

Download Flyer


2018 Convention Voting Guide

During the 2017 Department Convention, the membership voted to adopt a new method for voting for Department Officers. All voting for Department Officers will now take place via ballots and scanned with electronic tabulation machines. This will provide a private setting in which to cast secret ballots and expedite the voting process. This guide will provide some pertinent information for the voting process at your 2018 Department Convention.

The annual election of Department officers shall be by special order of business, the results of which should be announced at 1:00 P.M., or as soon as practical thereafter, on the day set for adjournment of the Convention or at the call of the Chair.

Voting for all elected Department Officers shall be by official ballot provided upon registration to any Posts so registered based on paid delegate strength. All official ballots are the responsibility of the acting chairman of each delegation and shall not be replaced for any reason under any circumstances.

How does Department come up with delegate strength? Each Post shall be entitled to two (2) delegates and two (2) alternates and to one (1) additional delegate and alternate for each additional (100) one hundred members provided that the per capita tax is paid fifteen (15) days prior to the Department Convention.

Additionally, according to Section 6, Article 5 of the Department Constitution, a member of the Department Executive Committee shall be a delegate Therefore, the Post that they are a member of will receive one additional vote.

Each Post will receive one (1) official ballot for every paid delegate at the time of registration with the exception of the Past Department Commander’s ballot, which will be provided on the floor at the time of voting as detailed in Section 6, Article V of the Department Constitution. Ballots may either be voted collectively by the acting chairman of each delegation or individually by Post delegates to the Convention. The vote of any delegate absent and not represented by an alternate shall be cast by the majority of the delegates present from the Post.

Those candidates having an endorsement on file at Department by May 30, 2018, will be pre-printed on the ballot. The ballots shall provide for a write-in candidate for each office, should one be nominated off the Convention floor without prior endorsement by their respective Post.

Nominations for Department Officers shall be from the floor of the Convention. Nominating speeches shall be limited to five (5) minutes each. No more than two (2) seconding speeches shall be made for each candidate, each of which shall not exceed two (2) minutes.

Immediately following nominations, ballot voting shall begin on electronic scanning equipment provided by the Orange County Supervisor of Elections. All ballot voting shall be completed by 1:00 p.m. except Posts still in line to vote at that time. Once all the votes have been scanned the election is closed and tally begins.

A team of election officials will oversee the election process. These officials shall consist of an employee of the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office, the Assistant Department Adjutant, and the Department Assistant Judge Advocate or a representative appointed by the Department Commander in his/her absence.

The election officials will examine any ballot rejections to determine the intent of the ballot. If a ballot reflects votes for two (2) candidates for the same office that ballot will have that one (1) office’s vote cancelled and the balance of the ballot cast as presented. Should duplicate ballots be presented, the scanners will reject the votes from both ballots.

The election officials will supervise the vote tally collected by the scanners. The candidate for each office that receives the most votes shall be declared the winner. The results will be placed in an envelope which will be presented to the Secretary of the Convention (Department Adjutant) on the Convention stage to be announced.

In cases of a tie vote, a roll call of Posts for the purpose of casting their votes for the tied candidates shall continue until one candidate receives the majority of votes cast, the roll call is complete or until there shall be only one candidate for a particular Department office.

All official ballots will be retained as permanent record of the Department for a period of two (2) years.


VA secretary testifies on 2017 reform legislation implementation

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin testified Jan. 17 before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin appeared before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs at an oversight hearing on Jan. 17 to testify about the VA’s progress with implementing reform legislation passed in 2017. Shulkin addressed a variety of concerns ranging from appeals reform and modernization to accountability.

 In his opening remarks, Shulkin shared the VA’s top five priorities. These include providing greater health care for veterans; modernizing VA’s infrastructure, equipment and services; focusing resources based on what’s most important to veterans; improving the timeliness of how the VA delivers its services; and preventing veteran suicide. 

“A year ago, at my confirmation hearing before this committee, I testified that I’d seek major reform and transformation of VA,” he said. “Thanks in large part to your leadership which helped us pass legislation in 2017, we’re making progress on all five of those priorities.”

Appeals reform and modernization

When asked how the VA plans to dissipate the backlog of appeals in the future, Shulkin said there is a lot of work to do as nearly 470,000 appeals still need to be resolved.

Immediately after the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 was enacted on Aug. 23, 2017, the VA initiated a new appeals system called the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP). Shulkin said RAMP allows most veterans with pending compensation benefit appeals to participate, giving them the option to have their decisions reviewed in the higher-level or supplemental claim review lanes outlined in the new law.

RAMP is expected to be fully implemented by February 2019, according to Shulkin.

“We’ve actually started to make major improvements already,” Shulkin said. “This year we are on track to do 81,000 appeals – that would be 30,000 more than last year. Just at this period right now in this fiscal year, we’re at 21,000 appeals which is 10,000 more than this time last year. So, we’re getting better and faster and we’ve brought on new staff.

“Secondly, we’ve begun to offer veterans now the choice, in their legacy appeals, to opt into the new process so they don’t have to wait. This is the pilot process to the new project. Here’s the good news, they’re getting their decisions within 30 days and 75 percent of those decisions are going in favor of the veteran.”

Shulkin said he hopes more veterans will make the switch as stakeholders, including veteran service organizations (VSOs) and Congress, trust the VA to do what it promised to do and in good faith.

“I hope the VSOs and agencies will do everything they can to disseminate the fact that our veterans, who have pending appeals, are given the option to opt and go into the modernized program,” Senate VA Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson said. “Those who have done so have gotten a response in 30 days. That is a light year’s improvement in terms of appeals and I commend you on what you started.”

Veterans Choice Program and community care

“Benefits are a gateway to VA services and we need benefit determinations to be simpler,” Shulkin said. “Veterans should know what to expect and have more predictability instead of having to endure the burden of filing claim after claim. Benefits should better enable a lifetime of independence and success for veterans, economic opportunity, physical and mental well-being and financial security for the severely disabled.”

According to Schulkin’s written testimony, more than 1.1 million veterans utilized the Veterans Choice Program in fiscal year (FY) 2017. An increase of about 35,000 Veterans from FY 2016.

“My objective, when it comes to health care for our veterans, is to have a fully integrated, interoperable and operationally-efficient system that’s easy for veterans, employees and community partners to navigate,” he said. “We need a consistent, seamless experience for veterans at every VA facility across the country.”

In October and November of 2017, the VA submitted the Veteran Coordinated Access and Rewarding Experiences bill to Congress. Shulkin said the department needs Congress to pass legislation that will give veterans a working system and meets or exceeds what the private sector has to offer.

“From health care to benefits, we have to fundamentally and holistically change our service delivery paradigm,” he said. “We need a national network of modern facilities that meets their changing needs of veterans locally. And we need a simple, convenient choice for eligible veterans among a network of high quality community providers in a consolidated program.”

Shulkin’s written testimony stated that the VA is continuing to make progress toward improving the delivery of community care for veterans. The VA believes that the future of community care should include the following tenets: 

·      Improve veterans’ choice of community providers in meeting their health care needs;

·      Simplify veteran eligibility with a focus on veterans’ clinical needs;

·      Pave the way for consolidation of all community care programs;

·      Add convenient care benefits;

·      Set timely payment standards;

·      Include provider agreements with flexible payment rates that streamline how VA pays for care;

·      Permit medical records sharing in the network when needed for veteran care; and

·      Address clinical staffing shortages through expansion of graduate medical education, and by improving VA hiring and staff retention.

The American Legion believes a community care is a basic expectation for enrollees in VA’s health care system. The Legion calls on Congress, according to Resolution No. 363, to enact legislation that will limit outsourcing and give the VA the authority to consolidate its multiple community care programs.

Forever GI Bill

The VA has taken significant steps since the Colmery Act was enacted more than five months ago, according to Shulkin’s written testimony. As of Jan. 5, the VA has received and processed close to 600 applications and restored over 3,500 months of entitlement to students, granting them the opportunity to continue to pursue their academic goals. The VA will notify more than 500,000 Post-9/11 GI Bill beneficiaries by the end of this month, informing them that they no longer have an expiration date to use their benefits.

Shulkin said that the VA will stay committed to its ambitious outreach campaign to include targeted messaging and engagement to thousands of Purple Heart recipients, who starting Aug. 1, 2018, will be entitled to Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at the 100 percent benefit level for up to 36 months, regardless of their time in service. The VA will also communicate to reservists and National Guard members on their expanded access to GI Bill benefits.

The VA remains steadfast in its effort to raise awareness of the Colmery Act’s broad impact to Veterans and beneficiaries. “It’s about greater opportunity, especially for veterans returning to communities to pursue careers and fulfill dreams,” Shulkin said.

Suicide and mental health

Shulkin said reducing veterans’ suicide is VA’s top clinical priority. The VA has announced same-day services for primary care and mental health at every VA facility across the country, which includes extending mental health services to veterans with other than honorable discharges.

“When you take a look at where our highest risk for veteran suicide is, it’s in several categories – homelessness and homeless veterans who don’t have access to care,” he said. “Our other than honorable discharge veterans (are at) a higher risk as well because they don’t have access to services. So, what we provided them with is an emergency mental health benefit.”

According to Shulkin, VA has provided mental health services for about 3,200 veterans over the past 10 months. He said the department hopes those efforts will increase as more veterans are encouraged to seek help.

“All they have to do is show up,” he said. “We’re going to give them 90 days’ worth of emergency mental health care (to make sure) we stabilize a crisis and get them in longer-term treatment if that’s what is required.”


According to Shulkin’s written testimony, the VA took expedient action to implement his new authority to hold employees accountable as required in the Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017. Within weeks of the law’s enactment, Shulkin said he made it his duty to ensure that both the VA and employees are held to the highest standards of performance, integrity and conduct.

VA’S Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP), which was established in 2012, is protecting whistleblowers by utilizing its authority to place a temporary hold on personnel actions in cases where whistleblower retaliation is alleged or a disclosure is unresolved.

As of Jan. 8, Shulkin said OAWP has completed 77 investigations involving nearly 150 persons of interest. Its current inventory is 139 investigations and involves 228 persons of interest.

“Accountability and whistleblower protection is essential to our unwavering commitment to honoring veterans,” he said. “It, too, is about sensible, responsive, modern systems that process and support people to make it better.”

Future of the VA

Thanks to the passage of 10 bills that have all been signed into law, Congress has accomplished several important steps in 2017 to ensure veterans receive the care and services that they deserve. Those steps included: 

·      Ensuring veterans have access to timely care in their own communities;

·      Improving accountability at the VA;

·      Authorizing funding that will strengthen VA care;

·      Improving veterans education benefits;

·      Modernizing the outdated benefits claims appeals process at the VA;

·      Reauthorizing more than 20 important veterans programs;

·      Increasing veterans disability benefits based on rising costs of living;

·      Allowing the VA to securely share opioid date with states;

·      Streamlining the process for non-federal veterans job training programs; and

·      Authorizing VA to contract with nonprofits to investigate VA medical centers.

“We have a long to-do list,” Isakson said. “Most importantly, making sure we pay back those who have given so much to our country – the veterans of the United States of America.”

Click here to watch the Senate VA committee hearing.


National Commander Denise H. Rohan’s Visitation Schedule

Last update December 27, 2017

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

8:30am Depart Hotel
9:00am – 9:30pm Post 168, Key West
9:55am – 10:30am Post 28, Key West
11:40am – 1:00pm Post 154, Marathon (Lunch)
2:10pm – 2:45pm Post 333, Key Largo
3:25pm – 3:55pm Post 43, Homestead
4:30pm – 5:05pm Post 133, Palmetto Bay
5:35pm – 7:00pm Post 31, South Miami (Dinner)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

8:30am Depart Hotel
9:00am – 9:30pm Post 98, Coral Gables
10:35am – 11:05am Post 92, Hollywood
11:20am – 11:50am Post 310, Hallandale
12:20pm – 1:20pm Post 67, North Miami (Lunch)
2:05pm – 2:40pm Post 36, Ft. Lauderdale
3:05pm – 3:45pm Post 222, Ft. Lauderdale
5:45pm – 7:15pm Post 142, Pompano Beach (Dinner)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

8:00am Depart Hotel
12:30pm – 2:00pm Post 273, Madeira Beach (Lunch)
5:30pm – 8:00pm Post 347, Lady Lake (Dinner)

Friday, January 26, 2018

8:00am Depart Hotel
11:15am – 12:30pm Post 62, Stuart (Lunch)
1:00pm – 1:35pm Post 271, Jupiter
2:10pm – 2:40pm Post 268, Riviera Beach
3:00pm- 3:30pm Post 141, West Palm Beach
3:45pm – 4:15pm Post 199, West Palm Beach
4:35pm – 5:10pm Post 47, Lake Worth
5:45pm – 8:00pm Post 277, Boca Raton (Dinner)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

9:00am Depart Hotel
9:15am – 9:55am Post 162, Deerfield Beach
10:45am – 11:30am Post 180, Plantation
12:05pm – 1:30pm Post 157, Margate (Lunch)
6:00pm – 8:30pm Post 321, Cooper City (Southern Area Ball)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

9:00am Depart Hotel
1:30pm – 3:00pm 4 Chaplains Service
Coast Guard Station
7000 N. Ocean Dr, Dania Beach, FL
3:30pm – 5:00pm Post 304, Dania Beach (Food)
6:00pm – 8:30pm Post 164, Boynton Beach (Snacks)

Monday, January 29, 2018

11:00am Depart Hotel to West Palm Beach Airport
1:40pm National Commander Departs

Personal Preferences for National Commander Denise H. Rohan:

  • Beverages – Diet Coke and Decaf Coffee
  • Main Course – Beef, Pork and Chicken (nothing spicy)
  • Sizes – Polo Shirt Women L
  • Legion Project – Raise Funds for Temporary Financial Assistance and Veterans Service Officers

Personal Preference for Aide to the National Commander Mike Rohan:

  • Beverage – Diet Coke
  • Sizes – Polo Shirt XL

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Bob Hope Patriotic Hall Welcomes American Legion GI Bill Exhibit

Veterans invited to share their stories during moderated panel discussion Jan. 17.

LOS ANGELES – Bob Hope Patriotic Hall welcomes “The Greatest Legislation: An American Legion Centennial Salute to the GI Bill,” a multi-media exhibit, with a public reception and moderated panel discussion Jan. 17 at the historic home of the Los Angeles County Department of Military & Veterans Affairs, 1816 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles. A reception begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by the discussion and audience participation beginning at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Veterans and families whose lives have been influenced by the GI Bill, originally passed as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 under the leadership of California’s Warren B. Atherton during his term as national commander of The American Legion, are invited to share their stories about the GI Bill, which has been described as the most significant social legislation of the 20th century.

Dr. Jennifer Keene of Chapman University, author and distinguished scholar of World War I history, will discuss the GI Bill as one of the most significant accomplishments achieved by veterans of the First World War, who drafted the original bill and fought through its critics, Congress and a late-night Georgia rainstorm to make the measure a reality. Keene, president of the Society of Military History, is a master scholar chosen by the United States World War One Centennial Commission to provide professional training for educators about the First World War’s place in history. The program is supported by an American Legion grant.

American Legion Past National Commander David K. Rehbein of Iowa, chairman of the organization’s 100th Anniversary Observance Committee, will moderate the panel discussion at Patriotic Hall. Also speaking at the event will be Verna Jones, executive director of The American Legion, and panelists who will discuss the continuous effort to make the GI Bill a powerful benefit of military service and fuel for the U.S. economy. Scheduled panelists include U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Raymond Jackson, Los Angeles-Long Beach Maritime Safety and Security Team; UCLA student and Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan Sarah Horton; and John Kamin, Iraq combat veteran and assistant director of The American Legion’s Veterans Employment and Education Division in Washington.

Attendees of the Jan. 17 event are encouraged to RSVP by contacting Los Angeles County Department of Military & Veterans Affairs Executive Assistant Tatiana Rosas by email at

“The Greatest Legislation: An American Legion Centennial Salute to the GI Bill” is a traveling exhibit that features illustrated panels and more than 20 videos in touch-screen kiosks. It will be at Patriotic Hall through March 2018.

The American Legion, with 2 million members serving communities through approximately 13,000 local posts worldwide, was formed March 15-17, 1919, by members of the American Expeditionary Forces stationed in France after the armistice of Nov. 11, 1918.

Jeff Stoffer, American Legion Media & Communications Division.